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'Silence is complicity'

Taking aim at Trump, Biden says leaders must call out antisemitism, not platform it

In first comments since Trump hosted Fuentes and Kanye, who later went on unhinged pro-Nazi rant on Infowars to say he liked Hitler, US president tweets against Holocaust denial

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

US President Joe Biden (L) speaks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Decemnber 2, 2022. Former president Donald Trump announces a third run for president as he speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on November 15, 2022. (Manuel Balce Ceneta, Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
US President Joe Biden (L) speaks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Decemnber 2, 2022. Former president Donald Trump announces a third run for president as he speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on November 15, 2022. (Manuel Balce Ceneta, Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

US President Joe Biden on Friday weighed in for the first time on his predecessor’s dinner with antisemites Nick Fuentes and Kanye West, tweeting that leaders should be rejecting antisemitism rather than giving it a platform.

“I just want to make a few things clear,” read a post from Biden’s account. “The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity.”

The tweet came ten days after Trump hosted Holocaust denier Fuentes and the rapper embroiled in an ongoing antisemitism scandal, and the day after West, known as Ye, went on an unhinged rant on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s Infowars show in which he expressed his admiration for Hitler and the Nazis.

Vice President Kamala Harris also condemned the remarks on Friday.

“Praising Hitler and denying the Holocaust is vile, appalling, and must be condemned. Our Administration will continue to stand up against antisemitism and the epidemic of hate,” she tweeted.

Biden’s White House did condemn the dinner shortly after it was reported, with a press secretary saying in a statement that “bigotry, hate and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America — including at Mar-a-Lago. Holocaust denial is repugnant and dangerous, and it must be forcefully condemned.”

A reporter shouted a question to Biden last weekend while he was traveling for the holiday and the president indicated his disgust over Trump but sufficed with responding, “You don’t wanna hear what I think.”

The White House ostensibly felt an additional comment from the president was necessary after Kanye’s Infowars appearance on Thursday.

Kanye later tweeted a picture of a swastika interlaced with a Star of David, which led Twitter CEO Elon Musk to boot him from the platform for inciting violence.

Trump claimed he didn’t know who Fuentes was and that Kanye had brought the outspoken antisemite and racist to the dinner without his knowledge. Still, he avoided condemning either West or Fuentes

“I didn’t know Nick Fuentes,” Trump posted on his Truth Social account.

Fuentes — who has questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, and asserts that Israel has a malicious influence on US policy — has also been banned from several social media platforms. In a video posted by Washington-based non-governmental organization Right Wing Watch last month, Fuentes is heard calling Jewish people a “hostile tribal elite” who “run” the US.

West has lost several major business deals since making a series of antisemitic rants in interviews and on social media. Last month, German sportswear giant Adidas severed its lucrative tie-up with West after the tweeted that he planned to “go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” using a misspelled reference to US military readiness.

Rapper Kanye West shows President Donald Trump a photograph of a hydrogen plane during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, October 11, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

But his most extreme tirade came on Thursday when he was interviewed along with Fuentes on Infowars.

Wearing a black mask that completely covered his face, West repeatedly claimed that he liked Hitler and the Nazis.

West, who has hinted he is running for US president in 2024, has spoken openly about his struggles with mental illness, but his erratic behavior has continued to raise concerns.

“I see good things about Hitler also,” he told Jones. “This guy… invented highways, invented the very microphone that I used as a musician, you can’t say out loud that this person ever did anything good, and I’m done with that.” Hitler did not invent either of those things.

“I’m done with the classification, every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler,” he said, adding, “I like Hitler.”

“We gotta stop dissing the Nazis all the time… I love Nazis,” West said. “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis,” he said.

Biden has long said that he decided to run for president after watching Trump’s reaction to the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where American neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and far-right militias — among them Fuentes — marched in the street and where a counter-protester was run over and killed by a self-identified white supremacist who rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people.

Hesitant to condemn the violence, given that many of his supporters attended the rally, Trump initially sufficed by saying that he thought there were “very fine people on both sides” of the clash between white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators.

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